The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast
EPISODE 249: This is not white gentrification, this is active travel infrastructure for everybody
Sunday 5th July 2020
SPONSOR: Jenson USA
HOST: Carlton Reid
GUEST: Clyde Loakes, deputy leader, Waltham Forest Borough Council
Coffin protest, 2015
Whipps Cross cycle safari by Ranty Highwayman
Carlton Reid 0:12
Welcome to episode 249 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday July 5th 2020.
David Bernstein 0:24
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jenson usa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at
www.the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.
Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid and for today’s show, I popped down to Walthamtwo in the North East London Borough of Waltham Forest to get a personal guided tour of the people friendly goodness steadily building up around what was the first mini-Holland scheme. The tour was led by Clyde Loakes, the labour politician who’s deputy leader of waltham forest Council. We started on the now world famous Orford road where in 2015 campaigners from the East 17 streets for all campaign carried a coffin to warn that removing cars from this shopping street will be the death of it. Did their fears come true? Nope.
The ccomplete opposite, which is why Orford road is world famous, the location, the International side visits from planners and politicians eager to see how an ordinary British street could be so massively, yet easily improved, and significantly, how the local politicians who pushed for change got reelected. Clyde was also keen to take me to Francis road to see how another people friendly makeover is getting on. And then, perhaps most impressive of all, we cycled in perfect safety around the Whipps Cross interchange, which, since the 1920s, has been a high speed roundabout leading onto high speed roads, which made the junction particularly difficult to access for pedestrians and cyclists. The roundabout was ripped out and replaced with a signalised T junction, complete with wide cycle tracks.
That are silky smooth. And did I mention it there wide, really wide. The junction now works for everybody and not just motorists. It even works for the local wildlife because land has been given back to the ancient Epping Forest
Clyde we are all well it’s very sunny. That always helps. But we are on the sunny and busy Orford road which is now the kind of the poster child
for active travel people from around the UK possibly even around the world. But before we get into that, let’s just talk about what this was like on that particular day. When are people saying we don’t want this? Tell me what happened then. So yeah, so you’re right you’re on offered road probably the the most pictured active travel streets in the world.
yeah, take take me back now five years ago.
Clyde Loakes 4:00
We were here kind of formally opening this scheme, which was the first real completed scheme as part of our mini Holland funding.
And people had gathered
with the Dutch ambassador, his first day in office was here.
Andrew Gilligan was here senior council officers.
Carlton Reid 4:21
I was there because you had a an active travel conference, right?
Clyde Loakes 4:24
Yeah, yeah. And they were fully protesters outnumbering supporters by about three or four to one, if not more. So a couple of hundred people here. It was a miserable day at that was raining, not like it’s been ever since. And, yeah, we endeavour to kind of formally cut a ribbon.
And some of my colleagues decided they weren’t going to come out.
But it was clear that I needed to be out here and I need you to be here talking to those people that were still not happy. You know, an adult
cards are very famous, they had a coffin that they were suggesting that the work that we’d done would kind of be the death of this particular guy. very traditional small residential kind of shopping street. And I’m just going to count right 12345 630 odd people want to tip three, three people on bikes, the rest walking, and it’s a busy street glide. This is not it hasn’t died, hasn’t No, it hasn’t died. Civilization did not collapse in Orford road, directly after the interventions that we made to transform it in favour of active travel in favour of pedestrians in favour of children, micro scooters, people on cycles. And no it did not die. And actually, it’s still exceptionally busy in what you need to remember is that this was a road that had two way traffic on it. Two and a half thousand vehicles a day would use to kind of play
Way through this particular vote, where we’re standing now quite often cars will be parked on the pavement. So, you know, it was just bad for everyone. So if you had a buggy, you’re in a mobility scooter, you would end up having to kind of perhaps get into the road and conflict with motor vehicles. And of course now I just don’t see any of that at all. I mean, it’s, it’s a place where active travellers take the priority. And everyone else you know,
you know, they get out of the way for you.
Carlton Reid 6:31
So have you gentrified this has gentrification come after this? Have people said, Oh, yeah, yeah, it’s great, but I can’t live here anymore because it has happened.
Clyde Loakes 6:44
I don’t like to use the term gentrification. It’s not something that I believe in. I think if we would not want nice things, I believe in that kind of place. No one wants thousands of vehicles ploughing down a residential street or through their neighbourhood on a daily basis.
As we all know, the negatives from that kind of Mount of through traffic, how it impacts on our health and physical and mental well being we all know this stacks of evidence to suggest create places like this and people will come and spend more money and they will stay here for longer so gentrification no a not building a nice place for people to live and and to take their leisure. Yes. And that’s what that’s what this is about. It’s not about you.
Carlton Reid 7:29
So okay, this recycle pass is where these mum by the look of it. So she’s taking power or she’s riding now talking with a friend and just walking past and he’s just nipped off. And that looks obviously very perfectly safe. So are we in an enclave here? Is this like, like one of these we’re going to be getting like a quiet neighbourhood. Is that how you what you did with this?
Clyde Loakes 7:51
Yeah, so this is what people now would refer to as a low traffic neighbourhood and ltn
You know, they seem to be in in fashion at the moment. Because you know, join the lockdown for the past three months, more more people have walked and cycled around their neighbourhoods may have spent more time in their local shopping areas and actually recognise actually, they can access them by just walking and cycling. They don’t need to get into their car. So things have become very popular. But this is, you know, this is just one of our low traffic neighbourhoods that we built with our original mini Holland money. And there were a number of them throughout Warframe. So there are a number of them in Layton and Leytonstone. And it’s a model now that we’re taking an approach that we’re taking to kind of all of our kind of highway schemes, there is no real point in just simply putting speed humps down. You’ve got to take that through traffic out. You’ve got to give people something more than just speed humps that you can’t actually ultimately enforce.
Carlton Reid 8:56
And then you’ve got voted in again. So again, people didn’t say
Clyde Loakes 9:00
Right. This is something we don’t want. Well, let’s get this guy out.
Carlton Reid 9:03
And at this point, we were joined by a guy called Jacob who wheeled his bike across to us and started talking to Clyde. And as Clyde will point out, this is an interaction that might not have happened before because it’s just so easy for, for Jacob to spot Clyde and me talking on off the road. Do bear in mind that I didn’t have a microphone on Jacob because I didn’t know Jacob was going to be part of the conversation and I won’t include all of what, what Clyde and Jacob talked about. It’s very local, but I’ll I’ll include a little snippet here.
Right? Yes, yes. Yes. It’s so busy. How’s it? Oh, good.
keeping it alive.
Carlton Reid 10:04
well, that’s another
good point somebody can just stop get off is by Say hi. Go on again. It’s kind of civilised, it’s made it not you couldn’t have it couldn’t have talked.
Clyde Loakes 10:16
Yeah, you wouldn’t have had that interaction before. possible because you wouldn’t have seen him because there’d been a like a parked vehicle here, as you kind of move past each other, then he wouldn’t have been able to weave his bike through the parked cars to kind of, you know, it just wouldn’t have happened. And that’s one of the real kind of major anecdotes of all of our low traffic neighbourhood works that we’ve done in Oregon for us over the past five, six years, is that kind of sense, a great community cohesion, those kind of informal spaces where people can talk, shoot the breeze, whether they’re on the way to dropping their kids off for school, and they’re walking with neighbours now or they’re bumping into the parents of
their child’s mates, in class. All those kinds of sorts of informal opportunities, we created those spaces.
Where actually people can talk people can hang people can shoot the breeze and it’s amazing.
Carlton Reid 11:05
And then I back feats has just come past but not what I would call traditional, you know, like reclad
that famous phrase like a clad just a normal woman on a bike. Yep, just right. We could be in the Netherlands here, Clyde, we could, we could. And
Clyde Loakes 11:23
yeah, we could definitely be in the Netherlands.
But equally, we are in zone three in London. And you know, and this proves that you can do it in, you know, an urban area that’s had the extra 40 years worth of car domination that the Netherlands hasn’t had, in kind of shaping its behaviours, it proves that at any point, you can make some radical decisions to, you know, take a different course, intervene in a different way, decide that people can and should be moving around a place, a kind of tight urban place in different ways. It proves it can be done. So
Carlton Reid 12:00
Any of these, some of the restaurants and businesses are not open right now because of Coronavirus. But when they were open, were any of these businesses that we’re looking at here now either Republic cafe or any of the other shops that are here. Were any of them opposed back then? And I now combat so.
Clyde Loakes 12:24
I guess opposition is quite a strong word. I think there were a number of businesses here
that were slightly sceptical and just, you know, they needed to see to believe it.
But as soon as it was, you know, they recognised it, and they got on board once there was there still is a business here. They still very much opposed.
This gentleman here sells vintage furniture and whatnot, but you’ll see all these ways out on the pavement.
He’s opened in the springtime in the summer. And I have no doubt that he is benefiting because actually offered road is now a destination place. It’s not just a place where locals come it’s people come from other boaters to spend their time and their money here. And and other businesses kind of, you know gone. And it’s a new business is incredibly supportive and was very supportive. When they were just local residents in the area. They decided to open up their business here because of what we did. So apart from this guy,
Carlton Reid 13:35
and there’s people coming past very Dutch just looking down at their phones riding past. So apart from that guy, do you reckon any business owner on here would ever come to you and say could please go back to what we had before?
Clyde Loakes 13:47
No, definitely not. Definitely not. No, no, no, no, no way on Earth.
You know that. Fundamentally, their business models wouldn’t work in in the same way. So you’ve got restaurants
And bars that have now got the decent space to put tables and chairs out. So kind of increasing their capacity and then the nature of their offer. You know, and that’s what makes this such a great, great place now compared to what it was before, and it’s not a cycling Street, because there was a bus coming through the door, there’s a bus gate on this road. And so between 10 in the morning and 10 at night, only buses can come up this way, but it’s now one way and that’s a small hopper bus route that serves quite a significant community through this through this area, so a Highland wide kind of bus.
But you know, it works well. There’s a mature relationship between pedestrians, cyclists, kids on Walker scooters, and that
that hopper bus,
Carlton Reid 14:49
you can see that and then the people who were parked here, way back when when there’s cars gone. So those cars have ever been ditched and people are walking outside.
Clyde Loakes 15:00
Oh, you know there perhaps if they’re adamant they need to come here they’ll perhaps still use one or two this kind of short term shopper parking bays that we’ve got on some of the side roads here.
But quite simply, you know there’s a big reduction in vehicle traffic coming through this space so you know it is more people walking and cycling here. That is now the dominant way of coming to Orford road
Carlton Reid 15:27
What was your car ownership? What were your modal shares back then what are your modal shares now?
Clyde Loakes 15:33
They got me on the spot.
I mean, modal share, kind of cycling was only around about 1% I mean, it was pitiful, not dissimilar to without London and that’s that was one of the reasons why the mini Holland’s funding became available and was only for out in London. I can’t own shipping off advice right at that time was probably around about
Households owned the car cost the borrower kind of it was different in different parts of the borough, you know, it was a lot higher in vain or for the borrower a lot less in the south for the borrower were kinda it’s a bit more like in a London in the south of the bar.
I’m guessing now we’re probably heading to around about 50% of households don’t have access to appointment calm, maybe less.
So that’s really really good. modal share. I mean, it’s always hard to I always think it’s quite a hard one to gauge but we’re certainly better than 1% That’s for sure. But I wouldn’t want to put a percentage on it.
Carlton Reid 16:36
No one else is 10 minutes we’ve been here I must have seen
20 or 25 and and not on where there was a governance or a patch the governor’s just come past there’s been a
backfill box by Yeah, there’s people just riding past with no hands on the handlebars. You know, very, very comfortable.
riding along here. Yeah. And the pedestrians are very, very comfortable as well. So describe what’s just north of us here because I haven’t. I’ve been here a few times. And yeah, I haven’t been to that church. But you’ve got a fantastic bit of mediaeval history here as well.
Clyde Loakes 17:16
Yeah. So this is, you know, this is the heart of Walthamstow so some people call it still call it Walthamstow village.
But you’ve got, I mean, this is a conservation area fundamentally. So one of the ironies of the debates that we’re having with those people that were opposed to the change was that they wanted to
preserve the conservation area, but they thought that the best way to do that was through allow two and a half thousand vehicles a day to still go through when actually you took in this grid system. This neighbourhood was developed and designed and developed and built, you know, before cars existed, nevermind mascot ownership. So actually, if you were conserving it, you would take it back to what we’ve done.
But yeah, you got main, one of the main churches in the in the BOA is located just around the corner. And then you’ve got a load of, you know, very narrow residential streets just off, the feds feed into what we call like a pocket Park, kind of square that we’ve got just at the end. But then you’ve got some major, three major major through roads. So it’s one of the things that you were doing back then was, Well, a lot of people who are coming through here, we’re probably not even residents here. They were just using this as a rat run. So that’s one of the reasons why the businesses weren’t doing well because nobody was stopping here. They were just because traffic on congestion on those major roads come through here. So what you had in this area you had
a lot of vehicles thousands of vehicles a day using this whole residential area to kind of bypass a big chunk of leverage road which is one of our major roads rocks our busiest road local salty road in in
In the boat, and the traffic management systems on there that kind of can deal with thousands of vehicle movements, traffic lights, etc. bypassing Lea Bridge Road, bypassing a big chunk of whole street, which is another major road again with lots of signals and systems to, you know, be able to deal with thousands of vehicle movements a day, they would use this residential area to cut out all of those measures and you know, and take lots of time off their off their journey. But as a consequence, you know, they were, you know, dividing communities, they were making it really difficult for the local residents around here to walk or cycle and to kind of, you know, adopt that kind of active travel approach for their short bass cartoons themselves, you know, they felt so safe and getting in their own boxes to take their child to school rather than allowing their child to walk with them and micro sketching with them. I mean, it was, you know, it was a difficult place at that time, but because people have been so used to it, you know, we didn’t really have a concept
To what it would be like if you took all of those sounds. So it was quite hard to kind of, you know, win some of those arguments, you know, we can take out thousands of vehicles a day. Now you can’t make art, you know, nothing is going to change who actually did radically change. You know, we saw a lot of vehicles. Well, clearly a lot of vehicles could no longer use this area.
Further through traffic purposes, just like residents gaining access to where they live, that’s all and and then you saw because all of a sudden, this area wasn’t as easy to drive through. Actually vehicles didn’t then end upon the Bridge Road or High Street, they just bypassed the whole
time in its entirety. You know, I stayed on the A12 they stayed on the A046 I didn’t come into Waltham Forest take kind of big chunks out of their journey.
Carlton Reid 20:49
So one of the fears back then was that will okay do this are these roads but that’ll just mean you’ll get traffic backed up to there will not be able to get around. So that hasn’t happened. You haven’t had traffic knows
Clyde Loakes 21:00
So all of the vehicles that we took all the vehicle movements that we took out of this space and didn’t suddenly appear the next day on Lea Bridge Road and Hoe Street, clearly many did. But no way, by any way, shape or form all of them, which has allowed us to, you know, to kind of see, you know, the vast improvements that we have in the kind of air quality in this particular area and across the, across the borough, but even on those roads, like the Bridge Road, hoe Street, you know, those roads were designed for the amount of traffic that they have on them, they have the signals, you know, in Lethbridge road in particular, now, you got the signals that talk to each other. So, you know, they utilise whole length of the road to manage the amount of traffic on them. It’s not each junction has its own junction. And that’s kind of where you start to kind of see some, you know, congestion in the past because it was poor
traffic management systems in place that we’re not really talking to each other. But no, it’s good. And clearly lots of other cities and this is the reason why you probably bring visitor groups here.
To show you people from around the world what this is like.
Carlton Reid 22:03
But an awful lot of cities are now going to this model. And now with Coronavirus, accelerating this kind of model, but you were ahead of the game and you’ve created something that’s very Coronavirus friendly. Yeah. So you’ve made something very local for people to come to.
Clyde Loakes 22:23
Yeah. And so, you know, clearly, you know, pedestrians are privatised here now they were before. But you know, certainly when some of these other shops will start to kind of, hopefully reopen, they’ve got the space outside to accommodate the queues. They got the space outside where hopefully they’ll be able to bring their tables and chairs out and, you know, so that’s what we know works. And, you know, actually, you know, it’s very timely that there’s those opportunities in places like this,
because it is a very easy thing to achieve. And even in other parts, I haven’t had the kind of levels of intervention that we’ve had here.
In the in the bar, you know, you know, we’re suspending those kind of parking bays, tradition, Southside shops, because we know that space is gonna be really, really crucial to enable, you know, the footfall of shoppers to come back into those shopping areas, and potentially to allow some of those businesses to kind of move outside can help enhance and increase their capacity and their offer during what will be, you know, really difficult period of time for many of those businesses.
Carlton Reid 23:28
So, there are petitions against this. There are websites there was Facebook group, a judicial review, judicial review, it’s all sorts of things against this. So those people have you brought those people around, or are they still anti?
Clyde Loakes 23:45
I think the vast majority of them have been brought around or now more neutral than directly, very vocally opposed. There are still a number of people that do not believe the difference between
they come down here and they go Yeah, and you know, and there was a Yeah. So that’s, that’s and they are still very angry.
Yeah, but you know, change, change is always difficult, change is always difficult and radical change even more so. And that’s what we set out to do here, you know, it’s been quoted before, you know, I spent nearly 20 years and as a counsellor you know, trying to get excited around kind of very minimal traffic management schemes did nothing for modal share, basically accommodated drivers poor behaviour. And you know, and at best was a chicane and the speed hump here, did nothing really to kind of switch the modal share.
And we did nothing really nothing, nothing happened as a consequence, 20 years of blood, sweat and tears, you know, around those kind of levels, consultations and interventions. So it was always
necessarily there had to be something magical had to be something different. You know, and we had an election as well all out elections. And, you know, if i’d believe what I was reading on social media at that time, you know, the administration was going to get taken out, I was going to be heavily defeated by any one of everyone else who was standing against us, because everyone else had a slightly different view, through ourselves on what we’re done. But of course, the reverse happens, you know, my personal majority, it’s the highest it’s ever been. And we gain seats and those councils that have been at the forefront of supporting these interventions, also then majorities increase as well. So you know, it’s, despite everyone else having every other party and independence to vote for. They didn’t know they voted for us, and everyone often vice knows about mini Holland. Everyone had a view on mini Holland. Valley, areas around here. Yeah, because obviously it’s beautiful to have a signature Street and it’s
Carlton Reid 26:00
It’s wonderful, it’s pretty easy, and it’s great, the shops, etc, etc. But if you if you live around that corner there, but you have got to get to the other side of Walton forest. And this is nice to come through and are you accommodating people making those three journeys on bicycles? So what are you doing the in the rest of the bar? so busy road?
Clyde Loakes 26:22
Yeah, yeah, so there are a number of these kind of interventions that we’ve made, you know, low traffic neighbourhoods across across the bow now
in all parts apart from the the North, where our proposals were never as significant as they were in kind of orphan stone and the south of the border. So you know, and they’re all based on a kind of grid system that kind of got main roads around them, you know, they’re largely residential, in the middle, and you know, and that’s a classic system that, you know, Europeans and other cities have been introducing for decades, just slightly newer here in the UK, but now
They exist across across the borough and they you know, they’re making similar difference to those particular residential areas as well.
Carlton Reid 27:07
So one of those hopper buses is coming fast
and he’s going nice and slow. And he’s just waiting for the cyclist to pull the one side which they’re doing
seem to work he wasn’t an aggressive No, no, no, no, he speed limited the bear or is it just a design, just a design?
Clyde Loakes 27:25
I mean, it’s it is still quite a narrow
and the way the materials are used kind of gives it a sense that it is even narrower than it actually is. busy roads, main main roads, what can you
do with main roads? Well, you know, elaborate road now is just a gait cycle tracks the whole length of it, and we’re extending it further up into kind of towards the Redbridge borough boundary. We did have plans to extend it from the Hackney bow boundary to the cops around about but, you know, to fail so to kind of put that on hold for
time being hopefully they’ll be able to kind of get that back up and running as soon as possible as a scheme because that then starts to link up different significant pieces of cycling infrastructure across London. Kind of into one you know, and of course we were putting in our bids for TfL funding for the street space to kind of you know, try and get some temporary infrastructure in that can then be turned permanent by Amma keen advocate of permanency rather than temporary measures. I think you could waste significant time emotional and political energy on temporary schemes when actually better probably worth investing in permanence games, but you know, if it helps bring more schemes to the table, if it helps get more burners, more neighbourhoods on board, then you know, I’m happy to support temporary motors for the time being but now ideally, I want to see stuff moving very quickly from temporary to permanent,
Carlton Reid 28:53
because that’s Janette Sadik-Khan message in New York City is the trial stuffing
Clyde Loakes 29:00
Because nobody argue again. Yeah. But you’re saying that’s just great for, like traffic orders? And yeah, yes, complex. And the evidence is all there now for this stuff, you know, we’ve proved it can work. And we shouldn’t just hone in on constantly, you know, this city in the UK is different to the rest of the world or this city in the UK is different all the price. Actually, we know the interventions that work in an urban setting, you know, and there’s no reason why you can’t take something from Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and put it into London, into Cambridge, into Liverpool into Manchester. And there’s no reason why you can’t take something from wolven vital Hackney put it into Manchester or into Bristol or into Birmingham, you know, these things do travel, and they do work and it’s the urban nature of these settings that make them common and that you can you can instal them
Carlton Reid 29:53
was, in retrospect was calling it not necessarily your fault but was was TfL
And Boris Johnson and and Gilligan at the time calling it mini Holland.
Do you think you got some kickback there?
Clyde Loakes 30:07
Well, no, not Dutch, who it was always going to be around, you know, you could have called it and we could have called it the enjoy programme at that point and people still would have kicked off. Actually, you know, in hindsight, I still I still like the term meaning Holland. And if you talk to people around here, they won’t talk about the enjoy programme. They will talk about mini Holland. That’s what they will talk about.
And yeah, but it you know, it promotes and prompts.
reactions. Still, positively and negatively. And so yeah, I think it I think it’s a works to be honest, could have been called mini Copenhagen, probably no one would have really known.
But now I thought
it was a branding of the time, I don’t know enabled us to get the Dutch Ambassador down here. And that was his first day on there.
It was his first day in his job and he bought those strew waffles with a hand out and got I know he’s got snacks I taught him after. Yeah. And, and his and his crew. They were like amazed. Yeah, there was a timeout. So they timeout magazine do this thing, you know, your five favourite things or 10 memories and some again, I did him a couple of years ago. And it was still like wood trees kind of memories like that my first day in office I went AWOL from so expected to be really happy and it was like protest. It was raining there. There was a coffee and you know, associates so we obviously made a lasting, lasting mark on him and his time in the in office, but, you know, radical stuff is always going to prompt
a weird and radical response. So, and that’s what we did, and we got people talking about it. And even you know, the people that started off being negative, you know, it enabled us to engage, you know, to put various things forward.
Which meant, you know, we were challenging things and people were talking about it, you know, and that kind of level of awareness and knowledge around kind of active travel quality, you know, day to day activity built into, you know, your day to day lives, you know, all those things start to kind of, you know, resonate and help kind of raise people’s awareness. And then you start to see the behaviour changes as well. So you did it.
Carlton Reid 32:24
You’re successful at doing it.
But when you get visitor groups from other local authorities, certainly in the UK, coming to you, do they say Yeah, you did it?
Clyde Loakes 32:35
Yeah, fine. Great. We couldn’t. What do you say to them when they say, but we couldn’t do it where we are. I mean, I say to me, it’s all possible. It’s all possible, we’ve proved is possible.
And, you know, we’ve proved that no, politically, it’s doable and you will survive.
But you’ve you know, you do have to provide that leadership. You know, because
Your highways engineers aren’t going to table something that, you know, they’ve not got, you’ve not like got them back sort of thing, or that you’re going to, you know, cut the, cut their legs off at the knees, you know, two weeks into a consultation period. You know, we’ve seen all of that before, you have to lead it politically and you have to lead it from the funds. I think that’s probably one of the big differences around what we’ve done in moving forward compared to to other places before that is, you know, we invested political capital in making this happen, and making this a reality. You know, and, you know, we went out there and we fought for it, you know, we went into places and we fought for it, you know, because we knew we had rights on our side, you know, the evidence was all on our side and continues to be on our side for these kind of interventions. You know, the old days have gone, you know, there isn’t they kind of the whites, you know, businesses constantly and planning applications constantly asking for extra parking spaces.
Not one place that we’re in anymore, you know, the world has changed dramatically. And actually places like this, you know, if we start to think that, you know, more more people now know that they can work from home for longer, then these kind of kind of small kind of shopping centres potentially have more significant value, especially in our bigger cities. Because these are places that people will come in hot desk, they’ll pop out, grab a coffee pull going back to their home to work for the day, these kind of places will have greater greater value going forward, and perhaps even that they did before COVID.
Carlton Reid 34:36
And then one thing I haven’t mentioned here, there’s some trees here now. Yep. Which there would have been cars there before. So you’re you’re beautifying it because nobody’s going to complain about putting trees in and Jon Little Yes, a big proponent interviewed him on on the show. Okay. Yeah, he’s uh, you know, he says, right just trees get trees and that’s all I care about. Get trees in.
Clyde Loakes 34:56
Yeah, I mean, I mean, I know they are a physical manifestation.
They can be big, ultimately, of the change that you’re bringing about. And who doesn’t like trees? And we know we’ve got to increase the canopy cover
in this country, you know, we know we’ve got to plant a lot more and more trees. And and actually, there’s no reason why trees can’t be planted in a cityscape light like London and they do make a difference, you know, whether it’s a bit of shade at certain points of the day, or because they make the street look a lot nicer. I mean, to be honest, I love trees and bollards,
you know, and they do, you know, they start to make that kind of difference in breaking up the street space, so you don’t have to have to spell out everywhere.
Carlton Reid 35:40
So when I first got in touch with it, I say, right, try it. I’m down. Can we have a wee chat on this beautiful, beautiful sunny day?
You said you didn’t say me here? No, I said me here because, you know,
I’m not from here. And I know this is the famous one. And you said, well, let’s meet here. So why
Did you want to meet somewhere else and not here?
Clyde Loakes 36:03
largely because I want to prove that, you know, was not just a one trick pony. And you know, orphan road was the only significant scheme that we did. And I wanted to meet in Francis road in Leyton, which is a different postcode, E10, as opposed to E17.
To show that, you know, you know that that’s another scheme, probably slightly bigger than this one exists. And you know, that you can replicate those kind of interventions in different places. And that one’s on a B road,
I think was the first B road in the country to kind of have a, you know, a time closure installed on it. And again, you know, it’s, it’s at the heart of a local community,
you know, a large residential area.
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Carlton Reid 38:12
Clyde, we’ve come here far from Orford road where we know about a mile
Clyde Loakes 38:18
well with the teach otter, which costs probably a mile and a half, two miles, and an awful lot of that that journey was just done and there’s no kids doing wheelies down here. Cool. was on Secretary cybertek only Bridge Road neighbour there the last time I came No. So a big part of our original mini Holland scheme as well as low traffic neighbourhoods removed from so was a huge piece of segregated infrastructure along the length of lead Bridge Road that falls within the bow boundary, and the total redesign of the former which costs around about into the kind of current whips costs, interchange. And if you go back, there’s a video
Original mini Holland bid that was a little did.
And you know, he interviewed me at the former, which costs around about and you know the difference really not just in the weather between that shot and today but just in the infrastructures are absolutely incredible, phenomenal, phenomenal difference. And yeah, and lots of people and all sorts of different people we saw using that segregated infrastructure today. I mean, and that’s what’s good about what we’ve done. Oftentimes, we haven’t build stuff for a certain demographic. We’ve built infrastructure for everyone, because we want everyone to wait for us to be able to cycle and pull stocks. I mean, you know, you could have actually lined this up for me, I’ve got kids doing stunts on jump bikes, and then we’ve got a guy going past on a pretty brand new gazella we’ve got mums and dads on bikes up there with kids in the backseat and then we just had about five or six years. Yeah, kids came past maybe a big sister. Yeah. All colours
Carlton Reid 40:00
Yeah, this is not I mean, we’re not white here, black woman just come pass their black guy just gonna pass their asian guy before a five Asian kids before.
Clyde Loakes 40:11
Yeah, so this is not white gentrification, you know this. This is cycling infrastructure and active travel infrastructure for everyone. And that’s why we built it all we have and our whole journey here once we came off of the second guy to cycle track, on leverage road, we came to low traffic neighbourhoods. You know, we came past schools, you know, we came past places that before had thousands of vehicle movements at the time of day we would have come through it, but we were able to meander cycle gently through it. We didn’t have to worry about you know, coming into any sort of conflict or coming in face to face with any kind of motorised vehicles. It was just a very easy ride. But before interventions, we might, there would be thousands of vehicle movements and this is leading us we are now we are now talking
Carlton Reid 41:00
Is Coronavirus but the road that’s over there was dead busy. Yeah, we had a segregated track. Yeah, but now we’ve come into an area where obviously an awful lot of beautification has taken place. So these trees yet so the tree massive tree, you put that in.
Clyde Loakes 41:15
So that would have been one of the original ones here, but literally the only one on this stretch, the rest have all been planted since as part of this scheme, but again, you know, businesses and local residents are looking after these flower beds and looking after the streets have taken ownership of this street space. You know, these kids are now using this as part of their place most you know, and that’s what you want. That’s what you want. It’s wasted as road space, this area, but now it’s enjoyed by a lot more people, any buses through on this no buses suit on this particular route. And this is very much a you know,
Carlton Reid 41:55
residential area, so this is probably a bit poorer than the previous
Clyde Loakes 42:00
Guess one price or often road, saying often it was like a destination. This is maybe not a destination. This this, I just started. So this, this scheme was only completed a couple of years ago. So probably about three years after all four drove was completed about two years. So this would have been coming into its third summer this season as a completed street space.
So you’ve got the businesses here that are running kind of street parties here that when the markets here like a dog show, they’ve kind of really taken ownership of this space, I’m making it work to draw more and more people here, not just from the immediate locality, but from a you know, cross a wider area. And it is it is, you know, for me, this is just as important as Orford road. You know, this is again, a shopping area at the heart of a large residential area that should in you know, as we move forward, regardless of what the new normal was going to look like, you know, if you’re just reflecting on kind of the climate
Emergency, you know, this was the sort of place where people can pick up what they needed to pick up without having to get into a car and drive into, you know, a big superstore or go to one of the traditional Town Centre settings, they can now come here and pick up what they need. So that’s like the 15 minute cities type thing in Paris. Yeah. So they kind of everything should be close to your house. Yeah. And this is it. And, you know, in the Victorians had it, you know, when they designed this, this layout, this residential area, you know, they knew that then, that you needed those kind of shopping parades in the centre of residential areas, you know, we kind of abandoned them, you know, for some reason, at some point, when we allowed kind of cars to kind of take over our space, you know, these places no longer became, you know, they didn’t fulfil our needs, didn’t fulfil what we kind of wanted them to be, but you know, they’re back again, and they’re more important than ever.
So, just to describe this, so there are those beautiful trees. Then you have got
Those pocket little very pocket parks, like the beautiful planting has been putting. So again. Yeah, I mean, the and the,
the sets the the very narrow sets you’ve got here again they they will be they’ve been put in Yes. Yeah. So that again that’s beautifying it. Yeah, that would have just been tarmac road. Sadly. Yeah. curb line. Yep. But if you’re going to do these things, you know, any and you want people to look after them and you want people to come here, then you know, you do need to invest in some quality around things. You know, you do it for other things. Why wouldn’t you do it for these kind of interventions.
Carlton Reid 44:41
And then let’s go back in time to Whipps Cross, which you just mentioned then so whips cross. If we’re going to now go and find that video, we’re going to find what it used to look like. Because I’ve just seen it there today. You’ve shown it to me and it’s like it’s very, very wide.
cycleways, you’ve got
signalised crossing there to get across, and you’ve got plenty of space for buses, plenty of space for motorists, plenty of space for pedestrians and plenty of space. It’s basically a space for everybody.
Clyde Loakes 45:10
Yes, on that intersection. So tell me what it used to look like. It was a huge and signalled roundabout with the number of spurs on an off of it with a really poor, very small label a bus interchange.
So buses would have to pull in. So you know, you’d then required on motors to let you the buses out again, which was always a bit of a conflict there. If you were a cyclist trying to get around it, you literally took your life into your own hands. It was a really unpleasant experience. And it’s a button right up to Epping Forest. So, ancient woodland. You know, for years as a bow, we’ve been nicking bits of the forest to widen road space for motorists, car drivers. But in this this instance, we were
gave a huge piece of land back to the forest. And you saw it you know, it’s been seeded with grasses and wildflowers and it’s really starting to merge back into forest again that’s surely how things should be you know, and they’re kind of landscaping that we’ve done around the bus interchanges allows plants to add new trees there were before there was a couple of dead ones in the middle of this huge roundabout that was no amenity space or anyone because you couldn’t get to it.
But now actually, it means something that space you know, and they kind of the bonding the mounds that we’ve put in there you know, and for a little bit of informal play for children wants a waiting for the bus to get home you know, it just kind of makes that space so much better. And then you saw the the rainwater garden that would put down there the age with the wildflowers again, you know just all these things just make for better design make for better places. Yeah even hurts you know when those kind of gateway major transports in
Entrance points into the forest which which crosses said Do you know the history of it? When when did it become that sterile? Horrible bit of slammer tarmac 60s. I mean, I don’t I don’t do the history on either on what I want to look forward. So you know, might have something you know, clearly it doesn’t work for everyone. Clearly it doesn’t kind of support active travel doesn’t support you know, the public transport interchange of the places now, so close to which costs hospital You know, when a major acute hospitals for this part of East London, so, you know, something had to swing out to give you know, and thankfully, it’s part of our mini Holland beds, you know, we got the money to be able to do that major transformation line to change, you know, and and touchwood
you know, so far, no issues with it, you know, some of the doomsayers were saying, you know, major tailbacks, etc, etc. No, you know, decent modern traffic signal technology in place, which we’ve now got on leverage road
means you can deal with the traffic at the right time. You don’t have to wait for a junction to snarl up before the interventions and the phasing of the lights kicks in to change it all. And that’s all automatic. Yeah, yeah. So it’s just yeah and then of course you got to you got pedestrian and cyclist parties at some of those junctions now as well so brilliant. It’s great for everyone.
Carlton Reid 48:19
Well, I have been here a few times and each time I come there’s more bits getting added on so what’s coming What wait if I come here in five years time, what am I going to say five years time? What’s your plan?
Clyde Loakes 48:30
Well if you can if you come back in six months time you I’ll be able to show you another smaller low traffic neighbourhood the mark house one which works commenced today on I’ll be able to show you the hilltop area of the wolf so village scheme works into to commence there in two weeks time. So that’s another seven modal filters in total that we’re putting in place. And hopefully I’ll be I’ll take you right down to the far south and that kind of area that Leytonstone and for skating, new home share, we’re thinking of
Trying to get electronic neighbourhood puts in, in that kind of space.
You know, and ideally we’d like to be able to join up. So the cycling infrastructure that comes into Stratford, the DRI writer in Stratford, join that all the way at Lane stone, high road long which crossroad and enter kind of which was roundabout and the Bridge Road, you know, brilliant and then upward for new road and then say grace track all the way down Forest Road all the way to the top of them, you know, again, you know, some really, really big infrastructure stuff alongside some low low traffic neighbourhood stuff as well. So that’s kind of where we’re thinking. But everything that we do now in a highways concept or public realm concept is through the prism of what we’ve learned over the past five years rolling out, you know, low traffic, neighbourhoods and infrastructure for active travellers. Yes, very proud. Yeah, yeah. And especially when you come out on light days like this, and he you know, just see people and see how people are using the space
Carlton Reid 50:00
And you see different people cycling. You see people with cargo bikes, you see children playing in, you know, road space, because it’s safe for them to do so. Yeah, taking off. So you’ve got plans. Yeah. And they sound like pretty dramatic plans, you’re proud of what you’ve done.
How long you got left? You personally,
Clyde Loakes 50:23
there’s another couple of years left in me yet for sure. But like I say, you know, it is about, you know, we don’t want walk in voice just to be the only place where you can come and see this, you know, we want to see this replicated through towns and cities across the UK. You know, that’s when we know we’ve really made a difference. You know, you don’t want a single utopia in a single place. We want it across there for everyone to be able to change and transform lives in cities and towns across the country. And that’s what this is about. And that’s why, you know, we’re always keen but it’s myself my council offices, or you know, some of the fantastic community activists that were going well first always came
to kind of take people out on tours where it’s politicians or community activists or highways engineers and officers from other places will always take out show you what, what the art of the possible really is.
Carlton Reid 51:11
Thanks to Clyde Loakes there, and thanks to you for listening, of course. Shownotes and more can be found at the-spokesmen.com. The next show will be out in a couple of weeks. But meanwhile, get out there and ride